Man Rune

Submitted by Araknir on Mon, 23/07/2012 – 14:46


I’m starting mastering the Colymar campain, and one of my players decided to take the Man Rune as a 3rd rune (with Air and Movement). The problem is I have trouble with the meaning of the rune, or its potential applications.

Does someone already faced this ? How would you explain or leverage this rune ?

I have some instinct telling me about links to ancestors or the like, but i’m not really sure about it.




Flesh Man

Submitted by Roland Volz on Tue, 31/07/2012 – 13:19.

If they’re Sartarite Orlanthi, something Flesh Man related would be fantastic. He’s an important Lightbringer, the only one who could follow Eurmal’s path, and the Everyman bystander to the deeds of the gods in the most important formative myth for the Heortlings. And yet, he rarely gets his due.

There was a Flesh Man Common Religion keyword in HQ1; it might be worth checking out for appropriate abilities.


I’ll do some search then, as

Submitted by Araknir on Tue, 31/07/2012 – 13:53.

I’ll do some search then, as I’m pretty sure this char does not want to become a devotee (things may change though).

Do you remember in which HQ1 book it was ?


I think it was the core book

Submitted by Roland Volz on Wed, 01/08/2012 – 07:35.

I think it was the core book, actually. In the Heortling section, that was supposedly the most popular common religion.


Flesh Man

Submitted by David on Wed, 01/08/2012 – 08:03.

In HQ1 Flesh man (page 48) is a common religion for the Orlanthi; “The Heortlings’ ancestor, called Flesh Man, provides common magic to the religion.” Common religions disappear in HQ2 (phew). Look at HQ2 & Sartar for for more up to date info on the subject.

In Sartar: KoH Flesh man is only important in the LBQ and as a title on clan rings, fulfilling the ancestor role. More importantly to Orlanthi he is Darhudan with his wife/sister Darhudana, the first mortals. Later after Eurmal kills him, he is then called “Darhudan, Judge of the Dead. He used to be Grandfather Mortal..”. The Praxians call him Daka Fal.

He gives no magic. If you want ancestor magic, create a single rune hero/ancestor cult with the rune of your choice (eg Man). If you want to contact spirit ancestors, you need Kolat in Sartar Companion.

Other than Sartar:KoH, there is more about Flesh man, Darhuda & Darhudan in Heortling Mythology.


David Scott


According to King of Sartar

Submitted by Roland Volz on Wed, 01/08/2012 – 15:22.

So, according to King of Sartar, Flesh Man sees Orlanth kill the Bright Emperor and later sees Eurmal kill Grandfather Mortal, and goes mad. He sees death and doom all around, and follows the trail of destruction, unwittingly tracking Eurmal; this is where Chalana Arroy tries to heal him, fails, and follows him into the LBQ. On the LBQ, the Lightbringers go to the Court of Silence, where they see Darhudan meting out justice to the dead. Then the Lightbringers all return at the Dawn.

Now you’re saying that Flesh Man, Grandfather Mortal, and Darhudan are all the same. I can buy Grandfather Mortal and Darhudan, as that makes sense, but I can’t wrap my head around them being cognates of Flesh Man as well. I know myths contradict each other, but they at least generally don’t contradict themselves.

I don’t like it. No sir, I don’t like it at all.


I actually liked Flesh Man as a common religion in HQ1. He was obviously somebody that you could mythically connect to in order to gain magical powers, albeit of dubious use. However, he also obviously wasn’t a god, spirit, or essence of any kind; talents fit best.


how to make it so…

Submitted by Charles on Thu, 02/08/2012 – 00:48.

One of the differences that separates gods from mortals is that they are capable of several simultaneous manifestations (I don’t have the reference to hand). So it is quite possible that Flesh Man was driven mad by seeing himself being killed.

And while Granfather Mortal/Flesh Man/Darhudan is/are seen as the archetypal mortal, they are clearly also on the cusp between immortal and mortal. Darhudan is now, as the first mortal to die, the god of the Dead (as opposed to Humakt the god of Death/Dying/Killing).

BTW, mortals can kinda work around even this bar on separate manifestations. But that is a topic for another posting 🙂


Except Flesh Man is the mortal

Submitted by Roland Volz on Thu, 02/08/2012 – 07:34.

Except Flesh Man is the mortal in the hero band. That’s his defining characteristic in the versions of the myth that I can think of off the top of my head. That’s why his powers are all Talents.


Flesh man is the mortal except on the otherside

Submitted by David on Thu, 02/08/2012 – 14:24.

There are a few things to keep in mind at this point:

  • Of course your Glorantha may vary and you can have Flesh man as a cult that gives talents.
  • The game system reflecting Glorantha: HeroQuest has moved on from HQ1, giving it a more accurate reflection of how Glorantha is.
  • Who is telling the myth? none of the myths in Glorantha exist in isolation. If your players are being told the myth of Flesh man, and you want him to be the source of talents, that’s fine.
  • Enacting the myth. Your heroes may discover that playing Flesh man in a HeroQuest is not the same as his story. Look at the LBQ in the Colymar campaign for what Flesh man’s representative does.
  • Mythology and heroquesting doesn’t have to make any linear time sense (as others have said), heroes can meet themselves, watch future selves do stuff as well as see past selves actions, they may not even realise it’s them (watch the end scenes of 2001 for a great example of an other world journey where someone sees himself, or better still 2001 seconds).
  • If you’ve not read Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Cambell, have a go, you’re in for a treat.

Back to Flesh man. In the story he’s the mortal, As he steps from this world to the otherside in the heroquest, he becomes the representative of all mortals. As he transcends himself, he is all mortals that have ever been and himself, so he is Grandfather Mortal, Darhudan and himself as well. He may glimpse his fate – to die like all mortals and be judged by himself (If you read Frank Herbert’s Dune series, the Bene Gesserit unleash a similar experience with the waters of life).

What the hero does with that experience is what is important, screaming and going mad is a good option. Flesh man has no existance outside of that story and in that quest as he is actually all of us. I believe that at the end of the original LBQ he is bound into the net as the Judge of the Dead and never returns with his secrets, his insights having transformed him, saving us all, not just from his madness. He dies so that we can be saved – oooh, interesting mythic resonance.


David Scott



That’s about what I thought,

Submitted by Araknir on Thu, 02/08/2012 – 03:34.

That’s about what I thought, that Granfather Mortal/Darhudan and Flesh Man could very well be the same entity at two points of its myth (since there is no time at that point, there is the possibility of having myth “mixed up”.

I could see this as a specificity of the clan, worshipping the two as a single entity.

Love that interpretation Charles 🙂 If I’m not mistaken Arkat met/wounded himself heroquesting…



This lead to the topic of

Submitted by Araknir on Wed, 01/08/2012 – 08:24.

This lead to the topic of Hero Cults which I still have trouble understanding.

I am catching the concept (sacrifying to ascended mortals to gain specific magic) but I don’t quite understand the relation to divine cults, runes, and general rules.

In S:KoH, hero cults are considered subcults of other deities. But can subcults give affinity to a different rune than the major cult it belongs to ?


Hero Cults

Submitted by David on Wed, 01/08/2012 – 08:42.

Orlanth cult heroes are described in S:KoH on page 131. The listing of Orlanth Heroes and Hero Cults can be found in the Book of Heortling Mythology (25 pages of it!). They can clearly have a different affinity:

“Angorat [the Shade-Sword] was a courageous and successful Orgorvaltes leader during the Darkness. He defended his people against trolls and demons, and was most famous when he defeated a great troll army at Sword Hill. It is said he could see in the dark, hear a foe who was invisible, and that troll shot bounced off of him.”

Angorat clearly has darkness as his elemental rune.


David Scott



Thanks, just found it…

Submitted by Araknir on Wed, 01/08/2012 – 08:01.

Thanks, just found it… seems to be mostly common magic (but common magic got  changed in HQ2) with generic “this world” enhancements (talents) and some reference to ancestors.

I may try to devise something based on this concept of natural talents and appropriation (on the principle that, if on human can do it without help from the gods/spirits/essences, then every human can do it at some degree)


Man Rune

Submitted by David on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 04:03.

I’ve had a player with the Man rune in my Sartar game. We used it as an amplifier for the “formness” of the Man rune, so anything relating to the human form can be used (don’t forget troll and elves have this form as well), it’s also about self mastery of your self.

Don’t forget that unless he is part of a man rune cult, he can only every augment, however that’s easily solved by inventing a man rune ancestor cult.

In my Praxian game, it becomes much more important as everyone is part of the Praxian tradition (Man/Beast rune), so gains access to Man rune based charms. To help my players out, I’ve some sample charms for the Man rune:

Harden bones
Overcome pain
Stop bleeding
Stay awake
Defer meal

and some Daka Fal (Man/Spirit rune) ones:

Giant strength
Feel illness
Heal bone
Fight poison

These charms could easily be man rune augments.


David Scott


Nice, thanks for the info.

Submitted by Araknir on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 05:28.

Nice, thanks for the info. That seems to fit my player acception of the rune.

Also, if I understood correctly S:KoH, breakout abilities can be used directly even for non-initiates, so if the character buys those breakouts abilities they could be used as magical abilities.


Rune affinities rules are not in Sartar

Submitted by David on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 06:18.

The rules for this are in HeroQuest page 110-111 Rune affinities (paraphrasing):

  • you can only use a rune to augment if it is under 1 mastery. “You can’t do anything overtly supernatural with it; you simply get magically better at doing ordinary things.”
  • at 1 Mastery you can have a divine rune affinity if you initiate to a god.
  • “Initiation increases your magical effectiveness. You may now use your affinities associated with your god directly, as you would any other ability. Further, you may describe actions
    and contest results as overtly supernatural… However, the affinity is a keyword describing a wide range of magic, so it’s treated as a broad ability (see p. 51).”

So no breakouts until you are an intitiate, hence my comment about an ancestor cult with the man rune.


David Scott


Care to disagree (p.77 S:KoH)

Submitted by Araknir on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 06:40.

Care to disagree (p.77 S:KoH) :

Even if not an initiate, you can spend points to
create a “breakout” ability within a rune affinity (see
page 12). This breakout ability can be used directly,
even though the full rune affinity cannot.


Completely missed that

Submitted by David on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 07:00.

I’d completely missed that.

So an uninitiated Orlanthi (lay member) with a Rune affinity at 1 Mastery can have breakouts as the affinity becomes a keyword, but remains an augment, save for those breakouts.

Odd, but it’s there.


David Scott


My understanding on that is

Submitted by Araknir on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 07:24.

My understanding on that is that the runes are first the nature of the person, and second a way to emulate its god. The god allow to use the rune following its nature, directly, without needing specialties (for exemple every orlanth initiate has the capability to fly or to command winds, but their score in the rune, their breakouts ability or the subcults they belong to define the extent of those power).

A breakout in a rune where you are not initiate is just that : a power like a charm or a spell, but coming from the pantheon, and associated to the nature of the character.

For exemple I have an Orlanth Initiate with the Magic rune, and a breakout ability under it to Sense Otherwordly Entities, which seems fine to me and well within the nature of the rune.



Something, something, birds and bees, something, something…

Submitted by Dreamstreamer on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 01:50.

Well, Pavis: Gateway to Adventure talks about the Man Rune in relation to the Pavis cult. From what I could gather, it serves two primary purposes:

First, it fosters unity with others that have the Man Rune.

Second, it allows individuals to mate with other species that share the Man Rune. This might be limited to the Pavis cult.

This appears to affect all mortal humanoid species, as they all inherently have the Man Rune, even if it is not one of the dominant (three) runes for that individual. Apparently, it is pretty rare as a dominant rune.

I’ll see if I can find another source for additional ideas.


A man rune cult is already

Submitted by metcalph on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 01:47.

A man rune cult is already described in Pavis: Gateway to Adventure.

But I think it better to ask what your player thinks the man rune will allow him to do.  Is he imitating Flesh Man or what?


As I understand it, he was

Submitted by Araknir on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 03:02.

As I understand it, he was not expecting any cult power from it. My players are complete Glorantha Newbies (and I’m not much more experienced) and come from a more dirigist RPG background. They are currently trying to get comfortable with the conflict resolution and abilities of HQ2 and I aim to facilitate their experience by giving them rough indication on what their runes implies.
I have one char with the Magic Rune, but this one got quickly rounded up. As for the Man rune, I think he consider it as an extension of his “humanity”. I’m not sure what he mean by that and I’m scouring for information.

I wasn’t aware of the association with the Pavis cult. I saw some relations with the cult of Daka Fal in Prax (ancestor related) or Davan Vor/Darhudan and Flesh Man in the Orlanth myths. That’s what got me to the ancestor relations (that and the fact this is an aspect of Orlanthi religion that is mostly inkled in the canon, but not quite formalized).

I saw a write up of an Ancestor tradition in Cults of Glorantha (probably coming from Cult of Prax) but nothing so formalized for orlanthi.


Secrets of the Man Rune

Submitted by Herve on Tue, 24/07/2012 – 07:14.

That’s an interesting tread, and I’d like to contribute. To me, the Man rune is a Form rune, just like the Plant and Beast Runes. It is part of the make-up of all humanoids (elder races). MAN means here more “humanoïd” (two arms, two legs, stands upright) than… human.

Pavis used this Power in conjonction with HARMONY to try to magically fuse races together – but we still ignore his/its ultimate goal beyond all this “multiracial harmony” dross. I’ve always been suspicious of Pavis’ motives. He / it was a freak of nature, born of the impossible.

Your player could be many things beyond “a better human”. He could become a humanoid air daimon, for instance. He could use his Power (ie connection to rune) to affect or influence other humanoids : freeze them (not very orlanthi), control their Movement (better), even influence their behavior. That’d make him a fringe weirdo with the “evil eye” or somesuch. Would that appeal to your player ?